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Davidsen Middle teacher arrested on drug trafficking charges

TAMPA — A middle school teacher is accused of drug trafficking after he tried to buy 2 ounces of methamphetamine from an undercover detective Wednesday, deputies say.

Keith Bernard Jones, 39, teaches sixth grade at Davidsen Middle School, according to the school's website. He was jailed in lieu of $100,000 bail Thursday evening.

At about 6:30 p.m. Wednesday, he went to Fletcher Avenue and Dale Mabry Highway with $4,000 cash to buy meth, the Sheriff's Office said. He handed the money to an informer and took the meth from the undercover detective, authorities said. He was arrested.

Jones has been employed by the Hillsborough school district since 1997. He has taught at Greco Middle, Sulphur Springs Elementary, Madison Middle and Webb Middle, school district records show.

From July 2005 through June 2006, he was an assistant principal at Webb, according to the school district.

The school's principal did not nominate him to return to the administrative position. When Jones challenged that, a review committee sided with the principal, said Linda Cobbe, a spokeswoman for the school district.

"Mr. Jones is learning the administrative role daily," his 2006 performance evaluation read. "He needs to keep his door open and come to work on time."

Jones had received outstanding evaluations up until his 2005 promotion, which marked his first unsatisfactory year. He received only satisfactory reviews in 2007 and 2008, and administrators said he had trouble getting to work on time and showing up for staff meetings.

In bankruptcy papers filed in 2009, Jones reported he was more than $230,000 in debt, tens of thousands of that attributed to credit cards.

Cobbe said Jones' salary is $47,472 annually.

He was put on paid leave following the arrest, Cobbe said. The Hillsborough School Board convenes April 5 and could decide then to put him on unpaid leave, she said.

This is his first arrest in Florida, state records show.

Times staff writer Robbyn Mitchell and researcher John Martin contributed to this report. Jessica Vander Velde can be reached at (813) 226-3433 or jvandervelde@sptimes.com.

Davidsen Middle teacher arrested on drug trafficking charges 03/24/11 [Last modified: Thursday, March 24, 2011 10:18pm]
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